by Sue Grafton |
REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS
Nearly three decades after her debut in 1982's A is for Alibi, canny private investigator Kinsey Millhone shows no signs of slowing down. This is partly because she's aged just six years during all that time, making her the Peter Pan of the sleuthing world. It's also because her creator, Sue Grafton, remains a careful, nuanced writer committed to believable characters and labyrinthine mysteries. This time out Millhone is hired by a man named Michael Sutton to look into the unsolved case of a girl whose body he thinks he saw being buried when he was a boy. At first it's like most jobs that come this P.I.'s way: seemingly impossible but worth a shot. Then, as Millhone's hunches turn into leads that turn into compelling evidence, Sutton's sister comes forward to tell her that Sutton underwent recovered-memory therapy years earlier and falsely accused his parents of sexually molesting him. Does this discredit his story about the little girl, or is the truth altogether more complicated? Expect to be spellbound by the answer.
by Jeni Stepanek |
REVIEWED BY BETH PERRY
Many remember Mattie Stepanek as the precocious poet who wrote seven bestselling books before he died at age 13 in '04. But to Jeni, a single mom who unknowingly passed on her autonomic disease, he was the only one of her four kids to live past the age of 3. She and Mattie played jokes on friends and filmed each other in silly costumes. As he got sicker, Mattie dictated what he wanted in his coffin (candy, a crucifix, a SpongeBob pillow). At his deathbed, Jeni—who, at 50, is now struggling with her own health—begged him to stay with her. "It's ... lonely being the mother of dying children," she writes. It's heartbreaking how well she knows.
by Brooke Morgan |
REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL
It begins like a flatfooted love story: Young single mother Holly Barrett is swept away by a Superman-handsome Brit she meets on a bus. A whirlwind romance ensues, and even Barrett's 5-year-old daughter Katy is charmed. Mom recklessly allows the enigmatic dreamboat stranger, Jack Dane, to move into her coastal New England house. But when love goes bad—and you just know it will—this sneak-up-on-you page-turner packs a suspenseful wallop that will chill your soul. Morgan, a Bostonian now living in London, smartly roots her debut in a disturbing crime that begs the question: How well do we ever know a lover's secrets? Haunting.
by Penelope Lively | STARS "3"]
REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
In Lively's latest novel, six siblings tell the story of their childhood. The details vary, but there's agreement that the happy facade their mother put forth had cracks in it and that their father was remote. As family dysfunction goes, this is milder stuff than breakfast tea. What is excellent, though, is Lively's delicate writing and her insights into the deep emotional trenches dug for children by the people who profess to love them.
La's Orchestra Saves the World
by Alexander McCall Smith |
REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO
La Stone is a widow who, as the Nazi threat looms, assembles a ragtag orchestra in rural Suffolk in hopes of altering "the temper of the world." She falls for one of her recruits, a Polish pilot with a suspicious past. But patriotism trumps passion, leaving La to worry if her life will always be "a play in which I have no real part." In McCall Smith's quintessentially English world, perseverance, pots of tea and the power of music will show the way.
Village of the Ghost Bears
by Stan Jones |
REVIEWED BY BRIAN BRAIKER
In the fourth book of this enchanting series set in Alaska, a hunter turns up dead and faceless in a remote lake the same week a rec center fire takes the lives of eight locals. It falls to State Trooper Nathan Active to figure out if the two events were accidents or crimes—and whether they're somehow linked. Following clues all the way to the tiny Arctic village of Cape Goodwin (famous for "twins, polar bears and schizophrenia"), Active brings the reader along on a wild ride through rugged Inupiat (Eskimo) country. Jones's prose is sometimes too pulpy, but he's created a richly populated universe you'll be sorry to leave.